Sunday, March 13, 2016

‘16 Barianni Road Race (Troy)


3/13/16, Zamora, Ca






26th of 35


Robin McKinney, Chris DeMattei

I get a ride to the race with 2 Victory Velo teammates, Greg and Chris.  I’m feeling really unprepared.  I’ve been focused on the marathon training and didn’t start riding again until 4 days ago!  Besides being a little out of bike shape, I’m concerned about the dangers of pack riding.  On top of that, it’s going to be windy and raining.

Besides the concerns and fears, I do know the Lord wants me to try my best with what I’ve got and most importantly to represent Him.  We arrive and it’s not raining. Greg’s reviewing the radar and it’s looks like rain at the start.  The wind is cold.  I stay in protected areas around the Barianni Olive Oil processing equipment.

Greg, Chris and I warm-up for 8 mi.  I get my rain gear figured out, stretch some more and head to the start.  Standing in the rain, I’m already shivering.  I go off by myself and pray.  I’m reminded of my crash 2 years ago at the end of a week where I wasn’t giving God my time and was making decisions hastily.  The crash was caused by a hasty decision.  I calmly listen to the Lord now and remind myself not to make knee-jerk decisions.

I see Greg off in his 35+ 4’s group.  Standing next to Chris, we encourage each other.  I know he’s a Christian, too.  We pray together.  The official warns us of the potholes filled with puddles.  Then he sends us off.

I’m in the back, slowly starting to roll-out, reminding myself to be calm, not to get caught up with all the surges.  In this wind, nothing will probably happen until that 3rd loop, hours from now.  But they’re starting pretty fast.  There’s already a gap in front of me.  No worry, I’ll pick it up some more.  Hmm, are they really surging right before we turn into the wind?  I slow down, ready to coast up to the group as they turn into the wind.  But instead they take off!  Now, into the fierce wind, I’m still 10m back and struggling.  I give it all I have but my legs aren’t responding.  Like they’re as surprised as I am.

Mile 1: I’m getting dropped.  Only a mile into the race and I’m gonna have to ride 41 more by myself?!  Surprisingly there are others behind me, including Chris.  He and others sprint by on both sides of me and I don’t latch on.  Muscles burning, surprised, not aware of what’s going on.  Sure enough, the pack, tight together is pulling away and I think of 3 things:  I prayed for safety and this is as safe as it gets now.  How embarassing.  And I could quit. 

But I know I must continue and have hope, anything could happen.. somehow.  Then Robin McKinney goes by.  What’s he doing back here?  I jump on his wheel and we start working together.  Thank the Lord I have someone to work with.  Into the stiff wind, I don’t say anything or even look at him when I rotate through.  I’m embarrassed I lost the group.  But soon a couple others that fell off the pack ahead now join us.  We’re trying to get a good rotation going.

Mile 3: Turning into the tailwind section, Robin hammers and we’re making good time.  I help him whenever I can.  He’s really motivated even though we can’t see the pack ahead. 

Mile 13: Stragglers WP_20150315_009_cropkeep falling back to us and by the 2nd loop we have a good rotating group of 8 or 9!  Thanks, God.  This is actually great because we all know we need to catch up so we’re working well together, unlike the lead pack which is probably playing games with surges, attacks and soft-pedaling. 

However, we do have a couple guys not pulling through, breaking up our smooth operation.  But we say the right things to them and keep communicating until we’re all working together, for the most part.

Mile 26: On the 4mi southbound section, with a strong wind from an angle, we execute an effective eschelan – a sideways rotating paceline.  Everything is going well, but it is still a lot of work.  I take a gel and am drinking a lot.  Legs are getting tired.

Mile 34: On the final northbound tailwind section, my left hamstring is starting to hurt.  I keep telling myself, “pick up the knees, pick up the knees”.  Fortunately the group isn’t hammering and I’m able to sit-in.  I try stretching my leg but nothing is working. 

Mile 37: As we turn into the rollers, 4 mi from the excitement of the finish, I realize it’s not going to happen.  I tell Robin McKinney I  have to fall back.  Sadly I slow, the pack rides into the wind.  I get off and can barely stand on my left leg.  I lower the seat and try to stretch.  I creep along slowly.  The only thing that eases the discomfort is standing.  I don’t want to do damage so I don’t mind going slow, but if I don’t get back before 2, I won’t be able to brief my Robin on what to expect and plan for in her race!  Plus I wouldn’t want her to be wondering about me as she starts.  I try to push just short of hurting it.  Watching the clock.  It’s going to be close.

Mile 40: Finally I make it to the last 1.5mi stretch, into the wind, to the finish.  The volunteer on the corner is very encouraging, even though he knows I’m last.  “You should all get a medal for competing today!” he says which I appreciate.  This is the longest 1.5mi.  I stand most of it.  I creep across the finish line and make sure they can see my number.  And I keep going.. got to get to Robin before she starts.  Fortunately I don’t see the women lining up yet.  I catch Robin warming up at the van and all is good :)

I learned some good lessons, but most importantly I learned, again, that things can always get better and to be ready for it.  I wanted to give up in the beginning, but then got into a great paceline group.  I did finally have to drop off the back but up to that point was good!